Giving Compass' Take:
- Laura Hazard Owen examines the way in which unpaid labor deemed necessary to maintain office culture falls disproportionately to women and people of color.
- Who tends to take on non-promotable tasks in your workplace? How can we use the pandemic as an opportunity to build more equitable workplaces?
- Learn how Black women have survived and thrived in the workplace.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
On Thursday, The Washington Post ran an op-ed by Cathy Merrill, CEO and owner of Washingtonian Media, in which she expressed her fear that employees will want to continue working from home after the pandemic.
I am more bothered by the idea that other media executives think like Merrill. If they do, they are hurting their employees and their companies.
The op-ed’s original headline was explicit about the connection between working from home and being fired — “As a CEO, I want my employees to understand the risk of not returning to work in the office” — before being softened to “As a CEO, I worry about the erosion of office culture with more remote work.” On Friday, the editorial staff of The Washingtonian announced that, in response to Merrill’s piece, they are refusing to publish today. (Merrill addressed the opinion piece in an email to staff and sort of apologized, Maxwell Tani reported.)
The meat of the piece centers around Merrill’s weird estimate that “20% of every office job” is devoted to creating and sustaining office “culture.”
Possible labor law violations aside, it’s no coincidence that these nice office “extras” — the things you’ll rarely see listed in a journalism job description because historically nobody has considered them worth paying for — disproportionately fall to women and people of color.
Think back to the office you used to work from. Who unloaded the dishwasher, stocked the snacks, circulated the get well cards, made the coffee, bought the birthday cakes?
Did she get paid for it? And did the man who never did any of those things get paid 20% less than she did? No, because that would be insane, right? Because a mother works for free, right?
There’s another term for the “extras” Merrill mentions. Researchers call them “non-promotable tasks.”
Read the full article about non-promotable tasks by Laura Hazard Owen at NiemanLab.